Liquorice grows in Southern Europe and south western China. The roots of 3 to 4 year old plants are used medicinally and in the manufacture of confectionary due to its flavour and sweetness. The plant was introduced to the UK by monks during the 16th century.
Liquorice has a long and highly varied record of uses. It was and remains one of the most important herbs in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Among its most consistent and important uses are as a demulcent (soothing, coating agent) in the digestive and urinary tracts, to help with coughs, to soothe sore throats, and as a flavouring. It has also been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat conditions ranging from diabetes to tuberculosis.
What it does
Liquorice is one of the most biologically active herbs known. It contains many compounds, but of prime importance are glycyrrhizin, flavanoids, coumarins and sterol. Glycyrrhizin has anti-inflammatory properties and supports adrenal gland function. the flavanoids have antioxidant activity and have potent healing properties. Liquorice is also anti-bacterial, anti-viral, mildly oestrogenic, liver protective and has demulcent soothing action. It is an expectorant and helps to break up mucous.
|Adrenal support||Arthritis||Chronic fatigue syndrome|
|Colds and flu||Constipation||Dysmenorrhoea (painful periods)|
|Liver toxicity||Polycystic Ovary Syndrome||Stomach/duodenal ulcers|
The deglycyrrhised form of licorice (DGL) is clinically proven to treat ulcers in the upper digestive tract, due to its ability to stimulate the normal defence mechanisms that prevent ulcer formation. DGL improves the integrity of the mucosal surfaces of the intestinal tract, increasing the life span of intestinal cells and improving the blood supply to the intestinal mucosa. This form can also help prevent or reduce damage on the stomach caused by non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
If the levels of oestrogen are too high, the herb’s comparatively weak phytoestrogens can occupy receptors that otherwise could have been occupied by the bodys much stronger hormone. If the oestrogenic activity in the body is too low, phytoestrogens can exert a mild positive oestrogenic effect. Research also suggests that liquorice may enhance progesterone activity by slowing its destruction in the liver.
Active compounds in licorice (glycyrrhizin and glycyrrhetinic acid) enhance interferon activity, the body’s natural anti-viral compound.
Long term, high dose use of non-deglycyrrhised liquorice may cause an accelerated excretion of potassium and retention of sodium, and it should be avoided if you have high blood pressure or oedema. An increase in the intake of potassium-rich foods is recommended if using non-deglycyrrhised licorice regularly.
Caution with non-deglycyrrhised licorice alongside anti-arrythmics, anti-hypertensives, cardiac glycosides, corticosteroids, diuretics – check with your doctor before use.
These cautions do not apply to DGL liquorice.
Do not use in pregnancy or when breastfeeding.
Liquorice sweets may cause diarrhoea in children.